Shortly before I started at FourKites, I met Ira Weiss of Hyde Park Venture Partners with another plan: I wanted to create a data science services company. I learned fairly quickly that VCs don’t fund service companies, BUT Ira did the next best thing and introduced me to FourKites.
Supply chain visibility wasn’t an area I was familiar with, to put it mildly, but after a few discussions with the team here, I knew this was going to be fun. Hundreds of thousands of entities collaborating globally without facts or common data to work with. Think back to the pre-internet era when you sent a letter to your mom and completely forgot about it until she called to thank you. That’s a bit how the global supply chain works. You have a trillion dollars of logistics spend, moving trillions of dollars worth of goods, but you don’t quite know where the stuff is, when it’s going to get there, or what to do if it’s held up in transit. That’s a massive optimization problem that needs real-time information to make informed decisions.
My first impressions?
The company was growing like a rocketship and everyone talked quickly. I actually flew to meet our engineering team in Chennai for an interview – another first for me! Having been at FourKites for a couple months now, I can understand the emphasis the company places on trust and transparency, and why it was important that the engineering leader was accepted globally, not just in the Chicago headquarters.
So what have we been doing so far?
FourKites has always been focused on solving big problems with big data. The company started with a singular mission to un-silo data in logistics to improve end-to-end supply chain operations. Throughout its product development and network growth, the company has stuck wholeheartedly to that original objective. From a pure data play, FourKites has accomplished incredible things in its short history; for instance, we’ve got the largest network of Fortune 500 shippers, carriers and 3PLs in the industry. We’re collecting hundreds of data points on every single load, and tracking over 600,000 loads every single day. We’re helping users shave 15-20% off their dwell times by providing more accurate data and streamlined communications. With our machine learning capabilities, we’re able to provide ETAs to our customers that are more accurate than ever before possible.
FourKites has one of the fastest-growing and most valuable pools of data I’ve ever seen, and it’s got the right combination of vision, tech and talent to harness that data and drive a true revolution in the way modern supply chains operate.
A large part of what we will be doing for the next year is advancing our data platform and data science engineering efforts so that we can continue to build innovative solutions for our customers, helping them derive valuable insights that will improve their operations. Because of our vast data pool, FourKites is able to make connections and track trends that other platforms simply can’t, and we want to continue to double down on that.
We’re also 100% cloud-based, which is rare, and that gives us the freedom to grow our products at an incredible pace. It helps us to hire talented engineers who want to work on interesting problems using a modern technology stack. Whereas most businesses look at data supporting their core, here data is our core. Data supported by a cloud-based architecture gives us opportunities to improve efficiency, create transparency, collaborate and help reduce the carbon footprint of any supply chain in the world. My inner tree hugger is thrilled to be a part of this.
We are just getting started. We have a fantastic team and an ambitious vision to do the job our customers have hired us to do – and do it in a way that’s never been done before. I’ll be writing regularly to provide more insight into the tech initiatives we’re pursuing, and the invaluable data that’s paving the way for our success. Stay tuned!